Caesar salad became an American classic salad almost one hundred years ago, though it was actually created in Tijuana Mexico by Caesar Cardini, an Italian-American restaurateur. The combination of fresh Romaine lettuce leaves with a dressing made of coddled egg, garlic, Worcester sauce, Parmesan cheese and olive oil, was original and fresh, and the salad became known world wide.
Originally, the salad was prepared table side, and so the dressing was mixed right before serving. Since most restaurants (or people serving the salad at home) don’t have the luxury of waiters who are able to prepare the salad at the table, very quickly more convenient ways of dressing the salad were created, most in the form of mayonnaise- style emulsified dressing.
Unfortunately, the most common Caesar dressings we know today are thick and heavy, and in too many cases, full of preservatives. When poured way too generously over less than fresh lettuce, and topped with stale croutons, it makes one wonder why the salad became so popular in the first place.
So it makes sense to prepare the salad at home from scratch, dressing included. This way we can fully enjoy this flavorful and fresh version, which will not make us feel like going to sleep soon after eating it…
The dressing I have here is lighter and thinner than those dressings I’ve mentioned. A small amount of it is enough to flavor the fresh leaves without overpowering their flavor. Adding crisp, lightly toasted sourdough croutons, a few anchovy fillets and shaved Parmesan on top, creates a fresh, light and tasty salad, which is perfect for lunch or light dinner. Try it and enjoy.
* The dressing is a light mayonnaise, based on coddled egg, which is an egg that is barely cooked. It is therefore important to make sure to use eggs from a reliable source, without any cracks.
* Using whole coddled egg for the dressing, including the egg white, contributes to the lighter texture of the dressing.
* There is a debate regarding the use of anchovies in the original recipe on top of the Worcester sauce, which contains them. As I personally like them a lot, I choose to use them regardless. If you’re not an anchovy fan, you can choose to use only Worcester sauce. In this case, increase the amount to 1 tsp.
* The addition of mustard is also not in the original recipes, but using it helps emulsify the dressing. It also enhances the flavors of the other ingredients in the dressing. I highly recommend not omitting it.
* The dressing can keep, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
Prep time: 30 minutes
For the salad:
3 cups sourdough bread cubes
2-3 heads very fresh romaine lettuce
For the dressing:
1 L egg, at room temperature
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
½ tsp Worcester sauce
5 anchovy fillets
Juice of 1 medium lemon
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup safflower oil
½ cup light olive oil
3-4 anchovy fillets, for each plate
Shaved Parmesan cheese
1. Lightly toast the bread cubes. Remove the outer leaves of the lettuce (you can use them in THIS soup) and separate the rest. Thoroughly wash the leaves and dry them in a salad spinner. Remove the core from the larger leaves and tear into large pieces. Leave the smaller leaves whole.
2. The dressing: place the egg in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. Carefully remove from the water and wash under cold water. Carefully break the shell and empty the egg into a small food processor, fitted with the metal blade. Add the garlic, mustard, salt, Worcester sauce, anchovies and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Add the grated cheese and black pepper and process for 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup of the oil and process for 1 minute, until the mixture starts to emulsify. Add the rest of the oil, ¼ cup at a time, processing briefly after each addition. The dressing should look like a thinned mayonnaise. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
3. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and add about third of the dressing, just to coat the leaves. Mix gently and divide between serving plates.
Add anchovy fillets and scatter the croutons and shaved Parmesan on top. Serve immediately, with the rest of the dressing on the side.